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Replacing Tiles In Tiled Walls

The Right Tools
You can substitute more prosaic items for some in the tool guide, but none of the items listed here is expensive and boy, will they make the task simpler. So make a quick run to your local home improvement or hardware store, spend a few bucks and store the items in your toolbox or utility draw. ‘Cause guess what? Tiles will crack, chip and break in the future, and next time you’ll be completely prepared.

How To Replace Tiles
If the tile that needs replacing has been cut (is not a whole tile, but a piece cut to fit a certain spot), measure it exactly and write down the measurements. Most home repair joints will cut tile to size for you, saving you a step. Take a piece of tile with you to get a good color match, if you don’t have spares in your garage or storage area.

The adhesive may depend on your tastes, but organic mastic is easy to work with and ideal for wall tile applications. Do not use mastic for tile floor installation, because it is not as strong as mortar. You can also buy ready-to-use wall tile adhesives, but read the label thoroughly to ensure it will suit your needs regarding durability and water-resistance.

Tip: When mixing adhesive, you may find that your product does not break down how to mix small amounts. The rule of thumb for almost all mortars and mastics is this: place some dry mix in a small plastic container and add small amounts of water, mixing as you go. Once it is the consistency of peanut butter, it’s good to go.

Wear your goggles as you remove the damaged tile, because ceramic can shatter and its splinters almost always find their way right into your eye.

1. Use a straight edge to steady the tile cutter as you slice the damaged tile corner to corner, making an "X" across it. Be VERY careful of your fingers!
2. Don your goggles. Where your two lines intersect at the center, use your hammer and nail sink to tap a hole. Do this carefully so you don’t crack the plaster behind the tile.
3. Beginning at the center and working outward, use a broad chisel (or wide flat-head screwdriver) and hammer or mallet to start chipping away the pieces. Angle the chisel so it doesn’t dent the plaster behind the tile and strike in a quick, controlled fashion.
4. Once you have all the pieces removed, you’ll need to prepare the area for the new tile. New adhesive will not stick well to old, so scrape away residue with a paint scraper or metal putty knife. Be careful not to scrape off the plaster beneath. If you do damage to the plaster, you’ll need to spread a thin layer of new patching plaster to the area to level it again. Spread it on thinly with putty knife and allow it to dry. If needed, sand the area until it is smooth. Prime the area with moisture resistant latex primer and allow it to dry completely.
5. Use tile adhesive according to instructions (or mix to the consistency of peanut butter). Apply it to the back side of your replacement tile, making sure you have smooth, even coverage across the back, but stop short of all four edges by about half an inch, to allow "spreading." Install the tile firmly in its spot, making sure you allow even space on all sides for the grout. Protect the tile by placing a wood block over it and tap the tile into place with a hammer or mallet. Don’t hit too hard, or you’ll crack the tile. Once the tile is level with the others, tape it to the adjacent tiles with masking tape (paying special attention to the tile just above the replacement, so the new tile doesn’t slide down).
6. Give the mastic 24 hours to dry (or follow the instructions on the package). If the room is very cold, you may want to wait an extra day. Carefully remove the masking tape. Now you’re ready to grout. Use ready-mix grout that matches your current grout (most often, white). As with adhesive, mix it in a small plastic container to the consistency of peanut butter and spread it into the open grooves with a damp sponge or your finger, pushing it all the way into the troughs. Wipe excess grout from tile with a clean damp sponge and dry the tile face with a soft cloth. Create a slight depression in the grout by running a wet finger along the length of all four sides. Always wipe any excess off the tile face(s).
7. If the area comes into frequent contact with staining liquids (such as your kitchen backsplash near the stove) you may want to protect your cured grout with grout sealer, a liquid stain repellant that you apply with a brush or sponge-head.

 

Need a little more advice on replacing tiles? Share DIY tips with others in our Floors forum!